Drought ends for Dallas-Fort Worth area; rest of Texas suffers
The Dallas area has officially moved out of drought, unlike much of the rest of Texas, but long-term projections show that the region could still face problems after one of the driest years on record.
In its posting on Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor said the Dallas-Fort Worth area was no longer in an official drought -- for the first time since July. The improvement was caused by recent heavy storms.
“Locally heavy rain across central and eastern drought areas contrasted with unfavorably dry, warm weather elsewhere,” the monitor noted in its commentary. “A soaking rain (2-4 inches, locally more) fell from San Angelo northeastward across Dallas-Fort Worth into southeastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas. A second, smaller but locally heavier band of rain (1-6 inches) was observed from San Antonio and Austin eastward across Houston into Beaumont-Port Arthur. Consequently, widespread reductions in drought were made -- in some case up to 2 categories -- as a result of the heavy rain.”
The Drought Monitor is a map, including animated versions that give perspective over time, compiled by the University of Nebraska's National Drought Mitigation Center in cooperation with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies.
Texas and parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico have sustained drought conditions for a year as rainfall sharply fell. Ranchers have had to destroy cattle and prices for hay have jumped -- both signals of possible rising prices for meat-eaters at some point.
While the latest map was good news for the Dallas area, most of Texas still faces drought conditions.
Even in Dallas, reservoirs were below needed levels, and some degree of water conservation was expected to stay in effect for months.
Long term, weather experts predict, precipitation will likely be down and temperatures relatively up -- meaning that spring and summer could bring additional drought-related problems.
-- Michael Muskal
Photo: Cowboy Stony Jones herds cattle outside Dallas in October. The cattle were to be sorted and shipped north until the drought abates. Credit: Molly Hennessy-Fiske / Los Angeles Times